White House ups virus aid offer, resumes talks with Pelosi

WASHINGTON (AP) — The White House is boosting its offer in up-and-down COVID-19 aid talks Friday in hopes of an agreement before Election Day, even as President Donald Trump’s most powerful GOP ally in the Senate said Congress is unlikely to deliver relief by then.

Trump on Friday took to Twitter to declare: “Covid Relief Negotiations are moving along. Go Big!” A top economic adviser said the Trump team was upping its offer in advance of a Friday conversation between Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. The two spoke for more than 30 minutes Friday afternoon, said Pelosi spokesman Drew Hammill.

A GOP aide familiar with the new offer said it is about $1.8 trillion, with a key state and local fiscal relief component moving from $250 billion to at least $300 billion. The White House says its most recent prior offer was about $1.6 trillion. The aide requested anonymity because the negotiations are private.

“I would like to see a bigger stimulus package than either the Democrats or Republicans are offering,” Trump said on Rush Limbaugh’s radio show Friday. Earlier this week, Trump lambasted Democrats for their demands on an aid bill.

Pelosi’s most recent public offer was about $2.2 trillion, though that included a business tax increase that Republicans won’t go for.

But GOP Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell told an audience in Kentucky that he doesn’t see a deal coming together soon out of a “murky” situation in which the participants in the negotiations are elbowing for political advantage.

“I’d like to see us rise above that like we did in March and April but I think it’s unlikely in the next three weeks,” McConnell said. McConnell said later that “the first item of priority of the Senate is the Supreme Court,” suggesting there isn’t time to both process a COVID relief bill and the nomination of Judge Amy Coney Barrett before the election.

He spoke after Trump apparently performed an about-face, empowering Mnuchin to resume negotiations with Pelosi, D-Calif., on a larger, comprehensive coronavirus relief package despite calling off the talks just days before.

White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow told reporters Friday that “developments are positive” and that “the bid and the offer have narrowed” in advance of a the telephone conversation later Friday between Pelosi and Mnuchin.

McConnell remains a skeptic that a deal can come together — and he has issued private warnings that many Senate Republicans will oppose a deal in the range that Pelosi is seeking.

“We do need another rescue package,” McConnell said. “But the proximity to the election and the differences about what is need at this particular juncture are pretty vast.”

Later Friday, during an appearance in Tompkinsville, Kentucky, McConnell said, “I don’t know whether we’ll get another (virus relief) package or not.”

McConnell’s remarks capped a tumultuous week in which Trump sent conflicting signals and made unworkable demands. On Tuesday, he ordered an end to the weekslong talks after being told that few Republicans

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White House ups offer in virus aid before talks with Pelosi

WASHINGTON (AP) — The White House is boosting its offer in up-and-down COVID-19 aid talks Friday in hopes of an agreement before Election Day, even as President Donald Trump’s most powerful GOP ally in the Senate said Congress is unlikely to deliver relief by then.

Trump on Friday took to Twitter to declare, “Covid Relief Negotiations are moving along. Go Big!” A top economic adviser said the Trump team is upping its offer in advance of a Friday conversation between Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

A GOP aide familiar with the new offer said it is about $1.8 trillion, with a key state and local fiscal relief component moving from $250 billion to at least $300 billion. The White House says its most recent offer was about $1.6 trillion. The aide requested anonymity because the negotiations are private.

Pelosi’s most recent public offer was about $2.2 trillion, though that included a business tax increase that Republicans won’t go for.


But GOP Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell told an audience in Kentucky that he doesn’t see a deal coming together soon out of a “murky” situation in which the participants in the negotiations are elbowing for political advantage.

“I’d like to see us rise above that like we did in March and April but I think it’s unlikely in the next three weeks,” McConnell said.

He spoke after Trump apparently performed an about-face, empowering Mnuchin to resume negotiations with Pelosi, D-Calif., on a larger, comprehensive coronavirus relief package despite calling off the talks just days before.

White House economic adviser Lawrence Kudlow told reporters Friday that “developments are positive” and that “the bid and the offer have narrowed” in advance of a telephone conversation later Friday between Pelosi and Mnuchin.

McConnell remains a skeptic that a deal can come together — and he has issued private warnings that many Senate Republicans will oppose a deal in the range that Pelosi is seeking.

“We do need another rescue package,” McConnell said. “But the proximity to the election and the differences about what is need at this particular juncture are pretty vast.”

Later Friday, during an appearance in Tompkinsville, Kentucky, McConnell said: “I don’t know whether we’ll get another (virus-relief) package or not.”

McConnell added that “the first item of priority of the Senate is the Supreme Court. We’ve got a stunningly outstanding nominee.” He later said: “We intend to put her on the Supreme Court in the next few weeks.”

McConnell’s remarks capped a tumultuous week in which Trump and sent conflicting signals and made unworkable demands. On Tuesday, he ordered an end to the weekslong talks after being told that few Republicans in Congress would end up voting for a possible Pelosi-Mnuchin deal.

After taking blowback for that decision, Trump sought to revive the negotiations on Thursday. Yet even as Mnuchin was reengaging with Pelosi, staffers in the White House — working under Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, a key negotiator — were issuing demands for a

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White House ups bid in last-ditch COVID talks with Congress

WASHINGTON (AP) — The White House is backing a $400 per week pandemic jobless benefit and is dangling the possibility of a COVID-19 relief bill of $1.6 trillion as last-ditch, pre-election negotiations hit a critical phase Thursday. But pessimism is again seeping into the talks and the two sides switched back to attacking each other in public.

The offer by Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin on unemployment is higher than many Republicans would like in any potential COVID deal with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Significant, possibly unbridgeable hurdles remain.

After Pelosi said the new offer still fell short, White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany said the speaker was “not being serious” in the negotiations.


“We raised our offer to $1.6 trillion,” McEnany told reporters Thursday. “It’s one that she is is not interested in.”

Mnuchin and Pelosi were expected to talk by phone early Thursday afternoon, but the speaker was publicly dismissive of the latest White House plan.

“This isn’t half a loaf, this is the heel of the loaf,” Pelosi said in a Thursday interview on Bloomberg TV.

The Trump administration, meanwhile, appears more eager than Capitol Hill Republicans to reach an agreement.

The White House plan, offered Wednesday, gave ground with a $250 billion proposal on funding for state and local governments and backed $20 billion in help for the struggling airline industry. Both areas are of great interest to Democrats’ union backers.

Details on the White House offer were confirmed by congressional aides, speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss closed-door discussions.

Pelosi postponed debate Wednesday on a Democratic alternative measure in hopes of getting an agreement. A vote is likely on Thursday, spokesman Drew Hammill said, depending on how the Mnuchin-Pelosi exchanges go.

White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows cautioned late Wednesday that Trump won’t approach a $2 trillion threshold. But there’s plenty of wiggle room in numbers so large, and the revenue picture for many states is not as alarming as feared when more than $900 billion for state and local governments swelled a $3.4 trillion Democratic aid bill that passed in May.

In a Wednesday evening appearance on Fox Business, Mnuchin described the talks as the first serious discussions with Pelosi in several weeks and said he is raising his offer into “the neighborhood” of $1.5 trillion. That’s well above what many Senate Republicans want but would probably be acceptable to GOP pragmatists and senators in difficult races.

Pelosi responded Thursday, saying the administration is still far short on aid to state and local governments. And she said she won’t agree to take half a loaf now.

“Some of you have asked, ‘Isn’t something better than nothing?’ No,” Pelosi told reporters, citing the “opportunity cost” for provisions sought by Democrats but potentially lost in any rush to agreement.

At issue is a long-delayed package that would extend another round of $1,200 direct stimulus payments, restore bonus pandemic jobless benefits, speed aid to schools and extend assistance to airlines, restaurants and other struggling businesses. A

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White House Ups Bid in Last-Ditch COVID Talks With Congress | Political News

By ANDREW TAYLOR, Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) — The White House is backing a $400 per week pandemic jobless benefit and is dangling the possibility of a COVID-19 relief bill above $1.5 trillion as last-ditch, pre-election negotiations hit a critical phase Thursday.

The offer by Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin on unemployment is higher than many Republicans would like in any potential COVID deal with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Significant, possibly unbridgeable hurdles remain.

But the talks have gained momentum as the Trump administration presses for an agreement. On Air Force One Wednesday night, White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows said Trump made an offer that was “extremely generous and certainly above the $1.5 trillion that has been articulated to date.”

The White House proposal yielded ground on funding for state and local governments, supporting a $250 billion infusion, and backed $20 billion in help for the struggling airline industry. Both areas are of great interest to Democrats’ union backers.

Details on the White House offer, first reported by the Capitol Hill publication Roll Call, were confirmed by congressional aides, speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss closed-door discussions.

Pelosi postponed a vote Wednesday on a Democratic alternative measure but could take it up again Thursday.

After a 90-minute meeting in the Capitol, Pelosi issued a statement saying that she and Mnuchin would continue to talk. “We found areas where we are seeking further clarification,” she said. Their negotiations were expected to resume Thursday.

“We made a lot of progress over the last few days. We still don’t have an agreement,” Mnuchin said after meeting with Pelosi and briefing top Senate Republican Mitch McConnell.

At the very least, the positive tone set by Pelosi and Mnuchin represented an improvement over earlier statements. But there is still a considerable gulf between the two sides, McConnell said.

Meadow cautioned that Trump won’t approach a $2 trillion threshold. But there’s plenty of wiggle room in numbers so large, and the revenue picture for many states is not as alarming as feared when a huge $3.4 trillion Democratic aid bill passed in May.

In a Wednesday appearance on Fox Business, Mnuchin described the talks as the first serious discussions with Pelosi in several weeks and said he is raising his offer into “the neighborhood” of $1.5 trillion. That’s well above what many Senate Republicans want but would probably be acceptable to GOP pragmatists and senators in difficult races.

After initially saying the Democratic-controlled chamber would vote Wednesday night on a $2.2 trillion relief bill — a debate that would have been partisan and possibly unproductive — Pelosi made an about-face and postponed the vote until Thursday in hopes of giving the talks with Mnuchin greater breathing room.

At issue is a long-delayed package that would extend another round of $1,200 direct stimulus payments, restore bonus pandemic jobless benefits, speed aid to schools and extend assistance to airlines, restaurants and other struggling businesses. A landmark $2 trillion relief bill in March passed with sweeping support

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In the Garden: Keeping track of the year’s ups and downs can improve next year’s harvest

I know it’s not the end of the garden season yet, but with fall fast approaching, I’ve been taking a critical look at how this year’s garden performed.

Gardeners in the Inland Northwest and across the country have seen the impact our changeable weather patterns have had on our plants. While there’s nothing we can do about the weather itself, it’s a good idea to think about what we might do differently next year.

Our very wet, cool spring impacted the production of many warm-season crops. My tomato plants are still being very stubborn about ripening all of their green tomatoes. I’ve been engaging in my annual three-step pruning routine in order to encourage them. This consists of severe pruning and cutting back the amount of water they get.

In the spring, I learned that wilting seedlings can mean they are too wet rather than too dry. All of our rainstorms really set back our melon and tomato plants.

One change I’m considering for next year is to reduce the amount of plastic sheet mulch I use on the beds where warm-season crops such as melons, winter squash, tomatoes and eggplants will be grown. The mulch increases the temperature of the soil and the amount of light reflected up into the plants, which in turn increases productivity, but I want to see if it makes enough of a difference to warrant using it every year.

This year, we grew our onions from small bulbs (sets) instead of plant starts. Many readers have told me their onion plant starts didn’t grow well and, in some cases, were infiltrated by onion maggots. I located an online source for onion sets this spring, and our plants grew better than they have in the past few years.

One of the fun things we tried was growing winter squash up and over an arbor made from cattle panels. At planting time, I envisioned needing a hard hat during the summer because there would be so many squash hanging from the top of the arch. Even though the plants grew well, the arbor got more morning shade than I’d like, which impacted the plants’ productivity. Next year, we’ll move the arbor to a much sunnier location.

Our best idea was growing potatoes and a few tomato plants in cloth grow bags and large pots. All of them did beautifully. This helped us expand the footprint of our garden without having to make more raised beds. You might consider this for 2021.

I was disappointed in a new broccoli cultivar called Millennium. After I harvested the primary heads, they didn’t form secondary heads, which is unusual. Next year, I’ll go back to Early Dividend, which is an excellent producer.

What’s my big goal for 2021? Do a better job of succession planting. This requires planning ahead to anticipate when a crop will be finished so you can quickly replace it with a new planting. As always, my goal is to get the maximum yield from our garden.

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